Shirley Mae Carter Tarpley was born October 9, 1947 in Danville, Virginia. She was the second of four children born to the late Albert Carter and Thelma Dixon Carter. She attended Southside High, where she excelled in English and business secretarial training. After graduating in 1965, she moved to Hackensack, New Jersey and eventually to San Antonio, Texas, where she married her high school sweetheart, Clay Henerson Tarpley. From this union, two daughters – Tonya Tarpley Green and Dione Tarpley – were born.
Shirley was a devoted Air Force wife and mother who traveled the world. In 1974, the family moved to Homestead Air Force Base. From there, she graduated from cosmetology school, which prepared her to work in, own, and operate beauty salons for nearly forty years. For Shirley, styling hair was not just a profession; she enjoyed bringing out the beauty in others. Often, she would not charge people who could not afford to pay, just so they could feel beautiful and special.
More than anything else, Shirley was devoted to her grandchildren. She was an excellent cook and baker who was known throughout the community for her famous apple pies and buffalo chip cookies. She leaves to cherish her memory, her brother James Waller, her loving and devoted daughters, Tonya Tarpley (James) Green and Dione Tarpley and five grandchildren: Brandon “Rashad” Gibbs, Hakeem Tarpley, Aliyah Tarpley-Fullard, Tyla Tarpley, and Tia Tarpley-Green.